Learning how to draw, color and paint using oil pastels is a great skill to add to your artistic arsenal. Oil pastels are a unique medium and truth be told, it can take some practice first to learn how to work with them extremely well.
In this article, we'll share with you six amazing facts about oil pastels that we hope can help you get excited in learning how to use it. Let's get to it!
Fact 1: A short, yet colorful oil pastel history
Learning how to draw, color and paint using oil pastels is a fantastic skill, but did you know that it was only in 1921 when oil pastels were invented?
It was invented as a high-quality crayon that combined a wide and vibrant color range and a unique, soft malleability. Oil pastels first appeared with Sakura Cray-Pas in 1925 from Osaka, Japan. The term "Cray-Pas" came from the company's invention of combining non-toxic crayons and pastel pigments, eliminating dust while managing to keep the strength and opacity of traditional soft pastels.
History also has it that in 1930, Talens of Holland introduced Panda Pastels to the market. At that time, modern artists loved drawing and painting on any available surface they find while missing out on the opaque brilliance of traditional pigments. Although Panda Pastels were intended as a children's product, many seasoned artists used it as their medium of choice.
And finally, history also tells us that in 1949, Henri Sennelier, an heir to a family paint company, created an art product specifically for Pablo Picasso and Henri Goetz. Pablo Picasso wanted to use professional pigments in malleable sticks and Henri Goetz wanted to do sketches under oil paintings.
Eventually, Sennelier Oil Pastels came to be the oil pastel of choice among well-known artists. It originally came in a palette of classic hues before the range of colors was expanded with the addition of grey, metallic and iridescent hues.
Fact 2: Even if you are new, start with quality pastels
Remember that the quality of your oil pastels is very important - even if you are just starting to learn how to use it for your art.
When deciding on the oil pastels you should buy, consider oil pastels that are softer and easier to blend together.
Start with a small set of high-quality oil pastels and that start expanding your range by purchasing individual sticks from artist-quality brands.
Fact 3: They have interesting similarities with other medium
By now, we can say that oil pastels are unique tools to use. In fact, many artists prefer using oil pastels over other coloring options!
Did you know that oil pastels have very similar characteristics with soft pastels and crayons?
Since a component of oil pastels is an oil binder, oil pastels are relatively less powdery than soft pastels, making it easier to blend using just your finger or a blending stump. Additionally, since it is oily, oil pastels can be layered easily like soft pastels.
Similarly, oil pastels behave much like crayons when laid out on a drawing surface. But instead of achieving a crayon-like drawing, oil pastels become more buttery when layered and eventually behaves much like paint.
If you are a fan of using soft pastels and crayons, you'll definitely have fun too using oil pastels in your art!
Fact 4: There are plenty of techniques to enjoy and master
If you are familiar with using colored pencils in your art, you will find that majority of colored pencil techniques apply to oil pastels as well.
The first oil pastel technique you can do is creating an underpainting. Since it is acting as the base, make sure that your underpainting is loose so you can add a layer of local colors on top of it later on.
Second technique is layering with colors. To achieve perfect depth in value and in color, make sure your colors are balanced and layered.
The third technique is using your oil pastels in slowly building up your applications. When you add large quantities of pastels a little too quickly, this can lead to a muddied artwork and you don't want that!
We invite you to master the rule of R3s by watching this video below!
Fact 5: When blending your oil pastels, take note of these three steps
Working with oil pastels can be a thick and greasy business! As you manipulate your way into blending oil pastels, remember these three simple ways you can achieve different effects, hues and textures! Experiment with your options until you find the one you are most comfortable using.
The first option is to pre-blend your oil pastels. Pre-blending requires combining your oil pastel colors together on a palette before applying it to your canvas. Use a palette knife to cut pieces off your oil pastel stick and use the same knife to combine the two or three different colors together. What will result is a pasty, oily paint that you can apply to your canvas using the same knife or your finger.
The second option is to blend your oil pastels directly on your canvas. Apply one color of oil pastel on your canvas before applying the second one. Use a tool to blend the two colors together until the two edges are smooth.
And for the third option, you can color mix or overlay your oil pastels directly on your canvas. This is quite similar to the second option, but only this time, you are blending larger areas of colors together. Start by applying a generous layer of oil pastel color to your canvas followed by a second layer of a different color. Add additional layers and blend until smooth and once you have achieved your desired hue.
Fact 6: You can easily keep the mess under control!
Just like in anything you do before starting an artwork, keeping your working table and surroundings free from any possible mess is essential.
Before you start working with oil pastels, make sure your work table is covered with paper towels and you have enough sheets to use as you go along.
Making sure you have paper towels by your side is crucial because oil pastels can quickly get on your fingers. Save your clothing from any disaster!
If you do not want to use paper towels, an old rag or any old article of clothing you have no plans of using will definitely do. These are good for wiping off yourself and for cleaning your sticks of oil pastels too before storing them back in their boxes.
And if you really want to avoid the mess, there are those who wear plastic gloves on their hands. It might work the same magic on you!
And now's your turn!
If you want to learn how to use oil pastels with proper guidance, we encourage you to join us in our art classes here at Art Smart! Beyond oil pastels, we will also teach you how to draw, paint, do crafts, do mosaics and so many other exciting art activities.
Here at Art Smart, we accept students as young as 4.5 years old and above. Kindly see our schedule below of art classes for your reference.
Our rates are available at this page so we hope you can check that out! And once you are ready to book an art class with us please do call us at these numbers: 0915-5948191, 0917-8784766 or (02)7886766.
Thank you and we hope to see you all in any of our studios!
When painting with oil pastels, you have a choice in the surface or substrate you use. You can use oil pastels on paper, cardboard, and even on glass, plastic, and wood. Many also prefer to use oil pastels on canvas. Just remember to take into account that oil pastels never really dry, so smudging can be an issue.What are 5 tips for using oil pastels? ›
- Don't expect greatness right away. ...
- Use artist quality oil pastels, not the cheaper brands. ...
- Use paper towels to keep your oil pastel sticks clean and free of other colors. ...
- You can blend with your finger, but also try blending using tortillions, brushes, or cloth. ...
- Experiment with it!
He employs the “Rule of 3” in his oil pastel artwork. The Rule of 3s is simply using Analogous colors. Simply put, if you are using the color red as the primary color, you would then also choose red orange and orange as the secondary colors.Can you wet oil pastels? ›
Oil pastels can be used dry for drawing or if mixed with turpentine, wet for painting. This double feature is truly remarkable and it almost always steals the show.Do oil pastels melt in the sun? ›
They're wax, or contain a high proportion of wax - so yes, they need to be kept cool and out of direct sunlight - prolonged sunlight at least, and heat of any kind.Can you heat oil pastels? ›
Oil pastels can be heated to release more of the pigment, oil and wax onto the surface. Hold the pastel about an inch away from a lit candle, or close to a radiator. You don't have to heat it much for the pigment and binder to release more easily.Do oil pastels dry out? ›
Oil pastels will never fully dry out on their own. They may get a bit of a protective layer on them over the years. But you'll still be able to scratch oil pastels off with your fingernail even decades after finishing a piece.What can erase oil pastel? ›
Erasing oil pastels
Moisten a cloth with white spirit and gently rub to remove the color. Don't rub too hard or you'll return the paper to its original naked state!
Oil pastel (also called wax oil crayon) is a painting and drawing medium with characteristics similar to pastels and wax crayons. Unlike "soft" or "Japanese" pastel sticks, which are made with a gum or methyl cellulose binder, oil pastels consist of pigment mixed with a non-drying oil and wax binder.Are oil pastels toxic? ›
Some oil pastels can contain toxic pigments, but this is only a hazard by accidental ingestion. Both permanent and workable spray fixatives used to fix drawings contain toxic solvents. There is high exposure by inhalation to these solvents because the products are sprayed in the air, often right on a desk or easel.
Oil pastels first appeared with Sakura Cray-Pas in 1925 from Osaka, Japan. The term "Cray-Pas" came from the company's invention of combining non-toxic crayons and pastel pigments, eliminating dust while managing to keep the strength and opacity of traditional soft pastels.Can you blend oil pastels with your fingers? ›
You can definitely use your fingers to blend pastels! There's also other blending tools that you might not have thought of. Let's take a look at them!Can you mix oil pastels together? ›
When blending on your palette, simply cut off pieces of your desired oil pastel shades you wish to mix together and place it onto your palette. Using a paint knife or paint brush, mix the colours together to produce a thick paint.Can you use a brush with oil pastels? ›
Dilute some oil pastels
Liberally apply the color in strong sweeping lines. Moisten an oil painting paintbrush with white spirit or turpentine. Brush on the pastel: its pigments will blend and the color can be moved around just like paint.
Sennelier D'Artigny Oil Pastel Fixative creates a shiny sheen, but that can be adjusted with the addition of an acrylic varnish over top (more on that in a minute). Some artists also report success with Krylon Kamar spray varnish, which provides a non-yellowing protective coat over oils and acrylics.How messy are oil pastels? ›
One thing to note about oil pastels is that they can become messy. Colours have a habit of picking up across pastels, and, like oil painting, it's easy for them to spread. Make sure you work in old clothes and have some paper roll to hand.Can oil pastels grow mold? ›
Dense, fluffy, mineral-rich layers of pastel are basically like potting soil for mold". Well said. Pastels cannot be easily cleaned for a number of reasons, but especially important to the growth of mold is that dirt is attracted to the rough surface (even when protected by a frame with glass or plexiglas).Do you work dark to light with oil pastels? ›
Mary Brigid: The main rules with pastels, like oils, is to always paint light over dark. For me the most important rule which I am very pedantic about is to keep your pastels clean. If you paint with dirty pastels it will result in a muddy painting.How do you fix broken oil pastels? ›
By simply grinding them up and adding a little water they are ideal to use as an under wash for pastel work or by using a fine brush to add detail to your artwork.” I tried this out by putting my broken pastel in a container, and using a bit of water to mix a small amount of it on a palette.Are there oil pastel pencils? ›
Oil Pastel Pencils for Artists 48 ct - Oil Based Colored Pencils - Drawing, Sketching and Adult Coloring - Soft Core Art Coloring Pencils Set with Skin Tone.
The oil pastels and crayons start to melt and sunken into the mold to fill all the gaps in between. You can add some pastels to fill in for the height. After they are fully melted, they form a shiny molten.Can you use hairspray to set oil pastels? ›
Many artists who create drawings with friable or powdery media, such as chalk, pastel and charcoal, choose to use hairspray as an inexpensive alternative to commercially available art fixatives.Are oil pastels easy to clean? ›
The oil pastels can make a mess on your hands, but are easy to clean. Some oil pastels can be removed off your hands with a baby-wipe. You can also use baby oil and a paper towel, which works with all types of oil pastels.What does baby oil do to oil pastels? ›
The baby oil will liquefy the paint a bit and allow it to spread around nicely. The oil pastel drawing is suddenly an oil pastel painting and the perfect place to experiment with blending oil pastels.. The baby oil does make the paper a little, well, oily.What eraser is best for pastels? ›
Kneaded rubber erasers are the best type of eraser to use for pastel because they don't create as much dust. You can also use a gum eraser, but be careful not to press too hard or you might damage the paper.Do oil pastels stain clothes? ›
Scrape off as much oil pastel as possible. Use ice cubes to chill the oil pastel making it easier to scrape away. Saturate a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol and blot the stained area. If stain persists, rub liquid dish soap into the stain and wash as normal.Can I use oil pastel over soft pastel? ›
Soft and oil pastels are two different mediums that we do not recommend using together. If you paint oil pastel on the top of the soft pastel, it will stick to the soft one and move it out from the surface. Soft pastel will not adhere to the painting surface if applied over the oil pastel.How do you wash your hands after using oil pastels? ›
First, use a paper towel or scrap towel to wipe off any excess paint that might still be wet. This will save you a lot of scrubbing in the next step. Then, pour a little oil and then dish soap into your hands, and lather them up. Rub the painted skin and it should start to wash off.Who invented oil pastels? ›
Oil pastels were first created by Sakura in 1925 and called Cray-Pas, which are still prevalent in classrooms today. They were a combination of wax, oil, and pigment that was meant to be non-toxic like crayons and suitable for children.What made oil pastels popular? ›
Designed as a relatively cheap, easily applied, colorful medium, oil pastels granted younger artists and students a greater freedom of expression than the expensive chalk-like pastels normally associated with the fine arts.
I used oil pastels for the background and then took black sharpie for the lettering! Pretty and easy! I used oil pastels for the background and then took black sharpie for the lettering! Pretty and easy!Is oil pastel safe on skin? ›
Cheap oil pastels are pretty benign, however artist quality oil pastels will readily stick to your skin like lipstick and are loaded with those vibrant and toxic pigments, so please protect yourself by wearing gloves (or by using a barrier cream at the very least).Are oil pastels OK for kids? ›
These are perfect for kids! I consider these a couple steps up from crayons. Oil pastels are made from an oil binder, which keeps them always “wet.” When you use them, you'll notice that they apply to paper differently. It's a lot like spreading butter!
Something to keep in mind when working with oil pastels is the fact that they can get a little messy. Remind kids to pick up pieces that drop onto the floor before they step on them and smush them into the carpet!What are some facts about pastel colors? ›
Pastel does NOT refer to pale colors. The name pastel comes from the French word “pastiche” because the pure, powdered pigment is ground into a paste with a small amount of gum binder, and then rolled into sticks. The infinite variety of colors in the Pastel palette range from soft and subtle to bold and brilliant.Are oil pastels hard or soft? ›
Their mix of oil and pigment give the pastels a crayon-like texture with a creamy laydown while their cylindrical shape allow artists to create various lines. The soft consistency of oil pastels allows for easy blending with other pastel colors and different media.How long do oil pastels last? ›
they don't necessarily "expire" but they can form a hard exterior if theyre not stored properly. they can probably still be used if you blend them with baby oil or paint thinner, though.What is Scumbling in oil pastels? ›
Scumbling. Scumbling is a technique for applying pastels in which light, but opaque applications of pastel are layered over the top of areas within the picture plane. These areas may have already received an application of pastel or they may be partially covering the raw surface of the paper.Do oil pastels dry on paper? ›
Oil pastel is unlike oil paint in that it never dries. The drawing/painting will always be smudge-able and can attract dust to the surface.Can I paint on top of oil pastels? ›
Oil pastels are made from pigments mixed with oil and a wax binder, making them water resistant. If you paint over top of oil pastels they will resist the paint and will never really dry out completely. Remember grade school art class and painting with watercolor over crayon drawings?
On a beginner level, use oil pastels to simply draw and blend with your fingers. Use a spatula or palette knife to blend while adding texture to your artwork. Alter your oil pastels by adding an oil medium such as mineral oil or baby oil to create a paint-like consistency.Are oil pastels good for beginners? ›
Oil pastels are a great medium for beginners to get started with because very few supplies are required to get started. All you really need is paper, a set of pastels and you're ready to go. There are optional extra tools and supplies you can get that can improve your drawing process, but they're not necessary.What are the disadvantages of oil pastel? ›
On account of their oily texture, oil pastels are not as simple to remove from your surface of your paper. High-quality element and extreme precision is a thing that you're going to discover tricky to attain with these pastels.How old are oil pastels? ›
Oil pastels were first created by Sakura in 1925 and called Cray-Pas, which are still prevalent in classrooms today. They were a combination of wax, oil, and pigment that was meant to be non-toxic like crayons and suitable for children.Does oil pastel ever dry? ›
Another problem is that oil pastels never fully dry, because their binder is a non-drying oil. Both of these factors mean that the acrylics are not going to adere well to the oil pastels and may peel off over time. If you're combining the two mediums, it's better to use oil pastels on top of acrylics.Can you mix oil pastels? ›
When blending on your palette, simply cut off pieces of your desired oil pastel shades you wish to mix together and place it onto your palette. Using a paint knife or paint brush, mix the colours together to produce a thick paint.Are oil pastels toxic to breathe? ›
Crayons and oil pastels do not present an inhalation hazard, and thus are much safer than pastels. Some oil pastels can contain toxic pigments, but this is only a hazard by accidental ingestion. Both permanent and workable spray fixatives used to fix drawings contain toxic solvents.What are pastels weaknesses? ›
Because pastels are not permanently fixed to the surface of the paper, they must be handled extremely carefully. Pastel art can be accidentally smudged all too easily. In addition, they can be quite messy on your fingers, hands, clothes, and work area.